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Managing Hazardous Waste

03 February, 2023


What is Hazardous Waste? Hazardous wastes come in many different forms: toxic waste, chemical waste, nuclear waste, medical waste, and so on. Hazardous wastes must often be removed from the facility where they were generated, for storage, treatment, or disposal.

Follow an approach to identifying waste by understanding the differences among the types of waste, and learn the steps for overall management of hazardous waste.



The following is a transcript of the Dangers of Hazardous Waste Infographic:

The Dangers of Hazardous Waste

Presented by DuraLabel

What is Hazardous Waste?

Simply put, hazardous waste is any material that has served its purpose, but still presents a danger to human health or to the environment. Because of this threat, it is important to handle and dispose of hazardous waste carefully.

Types of Hazardous Wastes

  • Toxic Waste
  • Chemical Waste
  • Nuclear Waste
  • Medical Waste

Solvent | Pesticides | Cleaning Agents | Used Electrolytic Fluids - CAN ALL BECOME HAZARDOUS WASTES

How to Identify Hazardous Waste

The EPA uses a four-question approach for the Hazardous Waste Identification (HWID) process, determining if a given waste falls under their regulations. Because the person or company that generates a waste is responsible for determining whether that material is a Hazardous Waste, it is important to understand this process.

Four Point Approach

#1 Is it a Solid Waste?

Don't let the name mislead you. Liquids and semi-solids, and even some gases, can be considered Solid Wastes under the RCRA. In general, if you have no further use for a material that is still present in your facility, it's probably a Solid Waste.

In the United States, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) governs all "Solid Wastes," and within that group, the EPA is empowered to govern the wastes that are considered Hazardous Wastes. Because of this legal relationship, for a material to be classified as a Hazardous Waste, it must first qualify as a Solid Waste.

If it is NOT a Solid Waste, it not Hazardous Waste.

If YES, it is a Solid Waste...

#2 Is it Specifically Excluded from RCRA?

There is a list of exclusions in 40 CFR 261.4, which apply to specific materials under specific circumstances. These excluded materials are named as outside the interest of the RCRA and are not governed by the EPA as Hazardous Waste.

If YES, it is not Hazardous Waste.

If NO...

#3 Is it a Listed Waste?

The EPA maintains four lists of materials that specifically qualify as hazardous waste. Any material that appears on any of these lists is automatically considered a Hazardous Waste.


F-List non-specific source wastes: Wastes from common industrial or manufacturing practices

K-List source-specific wastes: Wastes that result from specific industrial processes

P-List discarded commercial
U-List chemical products
Materials that become hazardous wastes when they are thrown out

If NO....

#4 Is it a Characteristic Waste?

For materials that have not been specifically assessed by the EPA, the generator of a material needs to assess the material's chemical characteristics.

If NO, it is not a Hazardous Waste


Ignitable If the material, by its nature, poses a fire hazard, it will count as a Hazardous Waste.

Corrosive An aqueous solution has a pH of 2 or lower, or of 12.5 or higher.

Reactive These are materials that can produce explosions, violent reactions, or toxic fumes when mixed with water, compressed, or heated.

Toxic All of these substances are harmful or fatal if ingested or absorbed, and pose a risk of contaminating groundwater if released into the environment.

Consequences of Improper Waste Handling

More than 21,000 tons of hazardous waste were disposed of between 1920-1953 (Hooker Chemical - Love Canal Landfill - Niagara Falls, New York)

The City of Niagara Falls purchased the land in 1953 for $1. Homes & two schools were built on top of the buried toxic waste.

August 7th, 1978 Declared a Federal Health Emergency due to Toxic Waste
U.S. President Carter declared the Love Canal neighborhood an emergency and provided funds to permanently relocate the 239 families.

Texas to Tennessee - The EPA has added 7 new hazardous waste sites that pose risk to our health and the environment.

Tunisia's large landfill is growing at a rate of 2,000 tons per day combining chemical, industrial and hazardous waste.

MAY 2014 - More than 11,000 homes in New Zealand may be contaminated by pesticides such as DDT.

2013 - EPA cases resulted in criminal sentences requiring violators to pay:
- More than $4.5 billion in combined fines, restitution & court-ordered environmental projects that benefit communities.
- More than $1.1 billion in civil penalties.

How to Identify Hazardous Waste

The first and most important step that you can take in properly handling your hazardous waste is to understand the rules that apply

The free Introduction to Industrial Hazardous Waste Management, from DuraLabel, will help you understand what you need to do.

The next step is to label your waste

This way, everyone in your facility can tell what the waste is, how to handle it, and what to do in case of an accident.

Any container that includes hazardous waste should be marked. There are three main categories for the labels that are used with hazardous waste:

Drum ID labels - Identify a given container and its contents, to meet general EPA regulations.
DOT hazard labels - Identify the types of hazards presented by a material, to meet DOT regulations for transportation.
Voluntary safety labels - Additional information to promote safety without being specifically required by any regulation (e.g. HazCom 2012 Labels).

DuraLabel Printers and Supplies from DuraLabel are effective tools to help you meet these needs.